Endura Racing continued their domination of this seasons Premier Calendar Series when Scott Thwaites took victory in round three, the Tour of the Reservoir in Northumberland on Sunday.
Thwaites, the 22-year-old Yorkshireman from Burley in Wharfedale previously won stage two of last month’s Tour Doon Hame, finishing third overall in the Scottish stage race. He showed his class in this, the third round of the Premier Calendar series, with victory at the end of the 100-mile event, starting in Blanchland, Northumberland with 8 laps of hilly terrain around Derwent Reservoir.
With Alex Blain winning the Dengie Marshes and Jonny McEvoy winning Doon Hame overall, Endura Racing have dominated all events in the Premier Calendar Series. And this victory leaves Thwaites leading the Premier Calendar standings at the halfway stage. Thwaites’ victory was all the more remarkable given that he has been ill with a heavy cold all week, and was not sure whether he was going to ride until the day of the event.
The race largely stayed together for the first few laps. An early attack included Magnus Backstedt (UK Youth), Russell Downing (Endura), Tom Moses (100%ME), Jamie Sparling (Raleigh GAC) and Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing).
They established a lead of around a minute before being chased down by GB pursuit squad members Andy Tennant and Ed Clancy riding for Rapha Condor-Sharp. The bunch then stayed together for a long period as the riders waited for the next move.
The Manor House Inn climb leading to the King of the Mountains prime was the favoured spot for initiating attacks.
Russ Downing (Endura) and Ben Greenwood (Vanilla Bikes) attacked the field as they battled up that climb, but they too were reeled in, then it was the turn of Sportscover’s Colin Humphrey to have a dig, but was likewise chased down by Ian Bibby (Endura Racing) and Andy Tennant (Rapha Condor-Sharp).
Thwaites first showed his intent with three laps to go when he went clear with Node 4 rival Pete Williams, attacking again at the bottom of the climb to the Manor House Inn. Thwaites and Williams from Skipton, North Yorkshire are training partners and know what each other are capable of. The most they had over the bunch was 50 seconds as they stayed away for one lap, but the gap soon came down and the race was back together.
In the final two kilometres Pete Williams again attacked, quickly joined by Endura's Ian Wilkinson. With the fast descent through Edmundbyers they gained a few seconds but the gap was being closed by the strong presence of Dean Windsor with Thwaites and Russ Downing on his wheel.
Job done for Windsor he faded and Thwaites hit the front on the final short climb to the finish on the dam wall. Dancing on the pedals the young star pulled clear of the rest easily taking the win.
Belfast rider Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport) showed great promise by managing to sandwich himself between the Endura duo of Thwaites and third placed Russ Downing to claim his place on the podium. BC spoke to IG-Sigma Sport Team Manager Becky Frewin and asked how she planned to break the dominance of the Endura squad.
"It's all about Endura at the moment and what we and the other teams are doing is trying to break it up a bit, we did that today with Peter getting 2nd and I know the other teams are doing the same. There is no doubt Endura have signed some of the best riders but we are all working hard to break up the dominance. Riders like Peter Hawkins are key to that and he showed today that he's very capable of competing against them at this level".
Winner Scott Thwaites, "I've been pretty ill since I returned from Brittany last week, where we were racing in very cold and wet conditions and I didn't feel well enough to race until this morning when I thought I would just give it a go."
"Today I got away with Pete Williams and we thought we would ride off the front and hope there was a selection behind us, then get joined by a group of maybe 10, but that wasn't the case, pretty much the whole bunch was still intact".
Into the finale Wilko (team mate Ian Wilkinson) was away with Pete Williams and that was OK for us, then at that small kick just before Edmundbyers the whole of our team attacked off the front and split everything apart. We caught Wilko and Pete on the descent, I took it on from there with Dean Windsor, Dean was awesome and he led me out perfectly to the bottom of that final kick up to the finish. The group were coming up fast but I had good momentum and just carried on to the finish".
BC told Scott that his win today had put him at the top of the Premier Calendar standings, "My objective is to win races, so that's good, I'm looking to do well in the Lincoln GP next week and be on good form for the Tour Series which follows".
BC asked second placed rider Peter Hawkins who he was and where he was from, "My name is Peter Hawkins, I'm 26 and from Belfast, I've been riding for a Belgian team for the last couple of seasons, before that I rode for an Irish team, but spent 3 years at Newcastle University studying Maths and Statistics, so I know this area a little bit".
"I'm now a full time bike rider thanks to Matt Stephens giving me a chance with IG-Sigma Sport".
BC told Peter that his team mate Simon Richardson had just described him as the team's secret weapon, "Well maybe a secret no longer, the guys in the team know I've got a good sprint, and today I had good sensations, it was just a matter of riding sensibly and going with the moves, it worked in my favour that the other riders didn't know me, although I wasn't ever going to catch Scott Thwaites on that climb, I was just happy to get 2nd and help my team get on the podium".
Riding his first Premier Calendar race of the season prolific winner Russ Downing was happy to play a supporting role to his young team mate Scott Thwaites and claim 3rd place into the bargain.
"I think the IG-Sigma Sport guy got me on the line, but it's been another good day for Endura".
"I got in that early move with Magnus Backstedt and was able to get the KoM points the sprints and on the podium, so that was good".
"Coming into the finish on that final hill with about 2km to go I started the Endura attack that split everything apart, Wilko was already away with Pete Williams, and the whole of our team got on the front, Kristian House helped to peg them back, but it was our intention to get Scott up there for the sprint, Dean Windsor did a massive job getting Scott to the foot of the last kick to the finish and Scott did a great job in finishing off the job".
"I'm now looking forward to a good week's training, hopefully with a bit of dry weather after the cold and wet we've had for the last few weeks, then it's onto one of my favourite races of the year the Lincoln Grand Prix, see you there".
1 Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing) 4:04:47
2 Peter Hawkins (IG Sigma Sport)
3 Russell Downing (Endura Racing) both @ same time
4 Graham Briggs (Raleigh-GAC) @ 2sec
5 Andy Tennant (Rapha Condor-Sharp) @ 5sec
6 Pete Williams (Node 4-Giordana)
7 Marcel Six (Metaltek)
8 Michael Berling (Cycle Premier)
9 Evan Oliphant (Raleigh GAC)
10 Wouter Sybrandy (IG Sigma Sport)
Premier Calendar Overall (after three rounds):
1 Scott Thwaites (Endura Racing) 244pts
2 Jonny McEvoy (Endura Racing) 154
3 Erick Rowsell (Endura Racing) 149
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.